Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s sometimes referred to as impotence, although this term is now used less often.
Occasional ED isn’t uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Frequent ED, however, can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.
ED can occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. An erection is the result of increased blood flow into your penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by either sexual thoughts or direct contact with your penis.
When a man is sexually excited, muscles in the penis relax. This allows for increased blood flow through the penile arteries, filling two chambers inside the penis. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis grows rigid.
An erection ends when the muscles contract, and the accumulated blood can flow out through the penile veins.
Erectile dysfunction causes
There are many possible causes of ED, and they can include both emotional and physical conditions. Common causes include:
ED can be caused by only one of these factors or by several of them. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor so that they can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage the symptoms of ED. You may need to try several medications before you find one that works. The following oral medications stimulate blood flow to your penis to help treat ED:
Medications used for other conditions may cause ED. Talk to your doctor about your medications and whether they could be causing your symptoms. There may be others that you can take instead. Never stop taking medications without first talking to your doctor.
Medications for ED can cause side effects. If you’re experiencing unpleasant side effects, talk to your doctor. They may be able to recommend a different medication. Also, get more information on the medications used to treat ED.
Several psychological factors can cause ED, including:
If you’re experiencing psychological ED, you may benefit from talk therapy. Over several sessions, you and your therapist will discuss:
If ED is affecting your relationship, consider speaking with a relationship counsellor as well. Relationship counselling can help you and your partner reconnect emotionally, which may also help your ED. In addition, explore the effects of stress and anxiety on ED.
This treatment uses the creation of a vacuum to stimulate an erection. Blood is drawn into the penis as the device is used, leading to an erection. A vacuum pump device consists of a few different components:
The elastic ring functions to maintain the erection, holding the blood in the penis and preventing it from returning to circulation. It can be left in place for 30 minutes. Read more about vacuum pumps and how to use them.
Erectile dysfunction symptoms
You may have ED if you regularly have:
Other sexual disorders related to ED include:
Speak with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they’ve lasted for 3 or more months. They can help determine whether your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
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